What can potential franchisees in the U.S. learn from those carrying their brand around the world?
Plenty, especially considering some of the challenges and rewards that come when franchise brands reach alternative markets in new areas. The appeal of U.S. brands in many markets makes the transition worthwhile and the qualities franchisees must possess to execute the move are motivational. Stepping abroad with a brand concept and the will to invest in a local community with alternative cultural sensitivities certainly enlivens business and human interactions in a large way. Essentially, these principles foster even healthier businesses anywhere.
Here are some of the elements that both U.S. located franchisees and those considering the move abroad can put into practice, regardless of where they plan to set up their franchise location.
- Seek out regions where long term growth potential is realistic —many areas experiencing recent attention are within Asian, Latin American, Middle Eastern, and Eastern European cities— and know your target customers
- Create a strong start with locals and aim to establish your location in an area with minimal saturation to provide the best possible environment for your business
- Thoroughly research local regulations and keep an eye out for areas with a combination of minimal regulation and saturation to maximize the adjustment abroad
- Focus on appealing to locals, building a business that caters to the needs of your target customers, and how to best translate your concept so that customers can appreciate it in their language, literally and figuratively
- Build on the brand concept without rigidity, remain adaptable, and make adjustments where needed to best suit the local culture
- Be prepared to make name or procedure changes and to alter product offerings extensively if needed while anticipating these changes as far in advance as possible
- Despite the need to remain flexible, always be on guard against brand damage to ensure that your concept receives the intended attention in new markets, even when making significant changes
- Remember that U.S. businesses continue to and have historically performed well in various parts of the world
Often, geographic areas that investors least expect to sustain a profitable franchise business are the very areas that embrace U.S. brands and many of the obvious choice markets are already saturated.
Some of the principles behind wise international franchising overlap considerably with brand expansion in the U.S. and franchise partners, whether based in the U.S. or diversifying to expand abroad, can enrich their experience by understanding the challenges and solutions behind successfully relocating a business.